Ricketts Glen State Park, Pennsylvania
All photographs Copyright © 2010 Jon R. Vermilye
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This will be my second trip to shoot waterfalls in the South (well, at least south of New York!) , and my 3rd trip to Ricketts Glen State Park. If you have been a viewer of my other pages, you will quickly discover that I enjoy photographing moving water, waterfalls in particular. Ricketts Glen is a wonderful place to photograph both. There are 22 named waterfalls in the park as well as two streams filled with cascades. I visited the park on a RV trip to Pennsylvania in 2001, and again last spring. In both cases, I felt the images would be better with the fall colors as a background. So, I planned a fall trip.
As long as I was heading south, I also decided to try to hit Babcock State Park in West Virginia for a fall visit (Spring 2010 trip to Babcock State Park) which contains one of the most photographed grist mills in the country. On the way I made a short stop at the bridge on US 19 crossing the New River Gorge, missing "Bridge Day" by a week. On "Bridge Day" they close the bridge, set up food & craft booths and allow base jumping from the bridge into the gorge below.
I also took a side trip to the Mabry Grist Mill along the Blueridge Parkway. The next part of the trip was driving the lower section of Skyline Drive. I met my daughter, her husband & granddaughter in Front Royal and followed them back to their home in Washington, DC.
That was the basic itinerary of the trip - I've divided it into sections so the same first section will appear in all of them.
Here is an index of the trip:
Day 1 You don't need it - you are here!
Page 2 of Ricketts Glen
Page 1 of New River Gorge & Babcock State Park
Mabry Grist Mill & More of Babcock State Park
Skyline Drive & Washington, DC
Washington DC, Day 2
I left Oswego around 2:00PM after celebrating my son Kyle's 40th birthday. According to my GPS, the trip to Ricketts Glen should take exactly 3 hours and 47 minutes to drive 181 miles. Actually, the travel time plus a couple of stops was pretty close - I arrived at the park around 6:00.
The last time I came to Ricketts Glen I found the Ricketts Glen Inn just across WV Route 118 from the park. Unfortunately, I was there on a Monday, the only day of the week the inn is closed. Today it was open, so it saved me a 20 mile drive to the next nearest motel. The inn is more of a bar and restaurant, but they have 4-5 rooms, one of which has its own bathroom. So, for $67.71 I ended up there for the night. Not too bad except for the garbage collection at 6:00AM.
I got an early start into the park. Like last spring, I parked at the bottom of the stream that forms the waterfalls on WV State 118. It was a cool 40° start, but the day warmed up to the 60's by the afternoon. This time when I reached "Where Waters Meet" I switched from the spring trip and followed Ganoga Glen upstream, crossed on the Highland Trail, to Glen Leigh and back to "Where Waters Meet", then back to RT 118. It was far more crowded this time than in the spring - I met people at almost every waterfall. Still, the park was uncrowded enough that I could take photos without people at most locations. Since most of the falls don't have signs & I often couldn't tell whether a cascade was actually considered a short waterfall I won't try to name the individual photos. The photographs are in the general order of my walk through the park.
Although there were lots of leaves on the ground, I would say I hit the park at peak or just a little past peak color. For those interested in visiting Ricketts Glen (and I highly recommend you do) there are a number of ways to see some or all of the falls. The one in the first photograph is only about 150' from the road on the downhill (south) side of RT 118. I apologize for the image - it was dark when I took it, I still had the camera set on ISO 800, and forgot to retake it on Friday.
If you want to see all of the falls, I recommend parking at the bottom. It is a longer walk into the first waterfall, but the return trip is all downhill. If you only want to see one side (The stream splits at "Where Waters Meet") starting at the top & visiting only the 10 waterfalls on the Ganoga Glen side is a little shorter. The first couple of images are the signs that show a map of the streams & some warnings about the hike. Don't let the "difficulty" rating scare you - at 66 years of age I had no problems with any of the trails. They do require lots of uneven steps & some steep paths, but if you take your time it is a beautiful way to spend a day.
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Last Update: March 25, 2012